Vassilis Kroustallis reviews the Brazilian drama The Accident by Bruno Carboni.

There is certainly a lot of uneasiness in the otherwise sunny (but poor-looking) Porto Allegre in Bruno Carboni's first, penetrating feature into a person's psyche. Taking his inspiration from a real experienced event, the first-time feature filmmaker starts with the accident that gives the film its title. Joana (Carol Martins) is a translator and biker who prefers written assignments instead of live events. Being happy with her partner Cecilia (Carina Sehn) and both waiting for their first child together, they are both to be upset by the accident.

The accident itself is nothing but awe-causing; Marina is struck by a car, inside being Elaine (Gabriela Greco) and her son Maicon (Luis Felipe Xavier). Maicon films the process, later to be uploaded as a YouTube video.

But whereas another film would opt for a cat-and-mouse chase or a revenge tale, 'The Accident' takes a different turn. Marina turns more inward than previously, reluctant to face charges (even though she has a photo of the car plate). Soon, both the car's owner and Elaine's ex-husband Cléber (Marcello Crawshaw) will appear in her life, and in turn, she will need to enter theirs.

With Chabrolian exactness to psychological details, Carboni charts the occupied territory gradually explored by the two completely different poles (Elaine is still afraid that her son will become 'one of them' LGBT people), while Marina moves away from both her partner and her purposeful pregnancy destination. This is an intense story told in minutiae (even with a too-quick ending); the device of using external accidents as a catalyst for own insecurities (especially the ones that are related to motherhood) has been investigated a lot, but the director and an exquisitely suggestive Carol Martins here make it an intimate affair. 

Scene after scene, the narrative insists we're getting close to Joana's intentions, yet the main character's trajectory is as opaque as her own camera. Whereas her alter ego, Maicon (a troubled teenager in his own right) insists that the camera reveals 'what is not there', 'The Accident' moves into a circle of failed intentions and promises of family and societal reconciliations -which are only partially fulfilled. Here fittingly accompanied by the sound of the wind instruments in the soundtrack, which propose rather than expose.

The enigmatic but still ordinary character of Joana is the best thing in the film that could have added a few dramatic punches to fit its study of a divided society. Engaging all the way, sometimes timid but still silently passionate, 'The Accident' is a welcome entry into the terrain of a society still in need of healing.

Vassilis Kroustallis


'The Accident' was presented in the First Feature Competition section of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.